Great career possibilities develop for those students who earn sports management degrees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, agents and managers of athletes earn salaries that average $97,560. The BLS 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook states that marketing managers for sports teams can earn salaries higher than $100,000 while entry-level coaches and scouts might only earn $25,000. Other salaries for sports management careers include:
- Sports Agents: $63,370
- Promoters: $88,590
- Athletic Directors: $99,585
- Coaches and Scouts: $28,360
Sports Management Career Choices
You don’t have to be an Olympic contender or first round draft pick to work in sports management. Sports entertain a vast group of people and foster great team loyalty, but they remain business enterprises that need effective management. An interest in sports — and even some ability — can advance your career among athletes and teams, but knowledge of the industry, business best practices and HR management techniques are more important qualifications. These five extracurricular activities can pad your sports management résumé and increase your employability:
1. Volunteering with Amateur Teams and Minor Leagues
Gaining experience in the field helps sports management majors learn about the common issues that face all sports teams and exposes students to lifelong contacts among the sports and business communities. Minor leagues, corporate teams, high school and college teams and community recreation departments are good venues where you can volunteer and gain valuable experience managing teams, individual players and key events. Internships for professional sports teams are very limited, but you can try pursuing internships in the field and related areas like marketing, finance, sports medicine, law and business. Looking for internships in sports management and related fields can build valuable contacts even if you’re just making coffee or managing equipment for an amateur sports group in your hometown.
2. Building a Sports-Minded Network of Contacts
Networking and personal marketing are becoming the signature characteristic of today’s successful job applicant in any industry, and few areas are more important for networking than sports management. Athletic directors look for coaches from pools of contacts, and athletes and team management staffs share their contacts for sports agents, promoters, coaching staff prospects and even top athletic directorships. The best practices for building your network of contacts include:
- Joining students and professional organizations
- Using social media to develop mutually beneficial relationships
- Writing guest posts on sports blogs and responding to other posts
- Getting involved with sports journalism for local newspapers, magazines, radio stations and broadcasting networks
- Taking part in school summer programs like the National Student Leadership Conference, Wharton Sports Business Academy, the SLU Sports Business Summer Academy at the John Cook School of Business and the The Sports Industry Management Institute’s eight-day course for high school students at Georgetown University
3. Attending Sports Conferences
Sports conferences offer ideal venues to continue learning about sports management outside the classroom. You can meet sports business enthusiasts from throughout the country by attending these conferences and interacting with top sports executives. These events are perfect for building relationships with industry influencers and getting the inside track on job openings and internships. Conferences include student-run events, those sponsored by top industry insiders like The National Sports Forum, MIT’s Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, Michigan Sports Business Conference and the Sports Events Marketing Experience or SEME conference where students can gain valuable insights into sports marketing and career advancement.
4. Participating in College and Community Clubs
Any college or community club, fraternity, sorority, charity or other organization could prove valuable for developing contacts, learning how to manage people effectively and enhancing your leadership skills. These talents are among the most valuable resources for establishing your credentials in sports management where you’ll deal with a broad cross-section of people including athletes, sports staff, administration and fans. Academic clubs and teams, student government, debate teams and even cerebral and creative pursuits like chess club and the arts can show that you’re well-rounded and capable of working well with the various stakeholders that you’ll encounter in sports management.
5. Volunteering for Sports and Community Events
No matter where you live, there are local festivals, marathons and tournaments where you can gain the management experience of dealing with sports-related business, marketing and administration issues. Most walkathons and runs have fundraising and marketing elements, and taking part in community organizations often promotes cultural diversity and empathy that can stand you in good stead when dealing with athletes from multicultural backgrounds. Most colleges expect some king of volunteer or community work from student applicants, so your extracurricular activities can not only provide a boost to the college application process but also strengthen your qualifications when looking for an internship or job position in sports management.
Extracurricular activities demonstrate a deeper interest in the business of sports management than purely academic courses and internships that are often severely limited among professional teams. Best practices for strengthening your sports management résumé include finding and cultivating a broad range of extracurricular opportunities to take part in sports and manage teams, matches, people and events.
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